Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Depends on who you ask

This past weekend, I participated in a community service project with a group of guys from Mercer University. We went to a neighborhood to pick up trash in the streets. As we drove into the neighborhood, there were several guys who commented that the streets were already clean and we didn't need to be there. As I scanned the same streets, I too noticed that the streets appeared to be clean.

We got out of the cars and met up to begin the cleaning. As we walked the first street, one of the guys mentioned that he didn't mind helping, but he didn't think we were doing any good. Despite a few trepidatious attitudes, we continued picking up what trash we saw. It didn't take long to realize that when you look passed the asphalt and into the grass, that there was plenty of trash to be picked up.

What I realized is that as we drove into the neighborhood, the streets appeared clean, consequently making our presence their needless. But we were looking at the streets only because it required less effort to clean the streets. The level of effort we would need to get the trash that was in the yards, the weeds, and in the briars was much higher. With trash bag in hand, it only took a few minutes to realize that the pieces of trash may be small, but the overall amount of trash was plenty. Sometimes, it takes more than a drive-by inspection to see the areas that need cleaning.

As I worked in the back of our group and I was able to watch the group walk the neighborhood. The group began interacting with the residents as we picked up trash. I watched as the folks in the neighborhood shared their delight and appreciation for what the guys were doing. It was obvious that seeing a group of young men serving their neighborhood was a blessing in and of itself.

I propose that the interaction with the residents was of greater influence than picking up trash. The act of removing trash had an immediate impact, and will be felt for a time. But the inspiration given to the young people who watched our group of young men do acts of service and the adults who drew inspiration from the fact that the next generation can be selfless and serving minded can have an impact for the coming months and even years.

Our purpose was to pick up trash. Instead we planted seeds of hope and joy. The needs we met were not noticeable from the comfort of our cars. If you had asked us if we were making an impact, the answer would have been a resounding NO. But we were't the correct people to ask.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Good Book Alert

In the midst of the mountain of school reading that I have this semester, I have been working my way through "You Were Born For This" by Bruce Wilkinson. I have not quite finished it yet, but I am loving every page.

The premise of the book is that God desires to move through our lives on a daily basis. He points out that most of the time we try to do great things by our own might, when God would love to make things happen through us. The book encourages the reader to apply several steps that will help the reader position themselves in a place that is ready and willing for God to move.

The style of writing is very pleasant. The author does a great job of intermixing stories along with the teaching. If you want to better understand your purpose as a believer in Jesus, this is the book for you. I will list the link if you would like to look into it further.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You Make An Impact Even When You're Unaware

Here's the second part of the lesson I learned about impact during the long weekend of Labor Day.

2) You make an impact even when you are unaware. Perhaps, you make more unintentional impacts that intentional. Let me explain.

When I was young, there were a handful of college students who were generous enough to babysit my siblings and myself, so that my parents could go on dates and stuff like that. I don't remember a lot of those times, but the memories of the babysitters that I do have are very clear.

While sitting around the supper table during the Labor Day reuinion, one of the ladies (who was one of the baby sitters) asked me if I remembered her and her husband. More than likely, she asked me because it had been 15 years since I had seen them, I was a kid the last time we were around each other, and nothing out of the ordinary happened when we were together.

Much to her and her husband's surprise, I began rattling off memory after memory that I had about them both. With each detail hat I shared, her mouth dropped open a little more. She was shocked. In fact, she didn't remember most of the specific details that I remembered. After a few more minutes of talking about days gone by, she closed the topic with a very profound statement, and it was this, "It is amazing. You never know what people will remember about you and what impact that will have on them."

That is exactly the point. We walk around doing the everyday things that make up our lives, and we have in our heads what it means to "make an impact." When we enter a situation that we deem impactful, we prepare ourselves to put our best foot forward. But the truth is that every minute of every day is an opportunity to make an impact. And the tricky part is that you will rarely get to choose to make an impact. These opportunities will take place whether you decide to step up or not. The words out of your mouth, the actions you take, the attitudes you project are all things that are seen by others and make an impact in one way or another.

Walk through your day with intentional purpose to exhibit Jesus in all you do. Some situations may seem insignificant, but you never know what someone will remember about you and the impact that will have on their lives.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's All About Impact

This past weekend, Mandie and I traveled (south) to Brooklet, Ga for a reunion of a bunch of folks who attended the same church during the late 80's and early 90's. I had a blast as I spent a day and a half with old friends at a beautiful retreat center. We ate, played volleyball, half-rubber, ate, worshipped, and ate some more. The entire thing was a little surreal as I was surrounded, mostly by people I had not seen in 15 years. Fifteen!

Now on the back side of the reunion, there are a couple of things that I carry away from the weekend regarding impact. I thought I would share them with you.

1. The manner in which you deal with people is longer lasting than you can imagine while in the moment. The centerpiece of the reunion was my Dad. He would never say that and would be embarrassed to see it written, but he was the pastor, therefore he gets thrown into the middle of all of the action. For two days, I watched a group of 100+ people fawn all over my Dad. Due to the impact that he had on their lives, these folks showed back up to not only see a bunch of old friends, but to spend some time with my Dad.

It is the time he spent allowing Jesus to be Jesus through him all those years ago that still influences these people today. They can look back to a particular time in their lives and pinpoint a specific moment that Dad had an impact in their lives. This weighty realization has inspired me. If you had asked my Dad during his time in Brooklet, he would never have guessed that his impact would be this great. But that is exactly the point. You and I have absolutely no idea how big an impact we may have in a person's life. If we walk through our day, being obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will perhaps look back, fifteen years down the road, and be able to see an impact that God made through us.

I'll share the second one tomorrow.